Cameron

On the last Monday in March, I paid a special visit to a special little boy.  Quick backstory: Cameron was rescued with four other rabbits right before Halloween.  He was adopted shortly after the New Year and returned right before Valentine’s Day.  We don’t get many returns (thankfully).  Cameron had fallen ill and his adopters decided to return him.  Volunteers rushed to get him back into our care.  Cameron developed neurological “issues”—could be genetic, could be a result of trauma sustained when he was trying to survive post-abandonment/pre-rescue.  His adopters gave up on him.  His foster family never will.

Cameron has been making great strides.  He’s a bit wobbly at times.  He needs an enclosure specially designed for his mobility needs.  Other than that, he is a perfectly happy and hoppy boy.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to share Reiki with him.

He had a lot to “say” compared to most of my clients.  He “told” me that the “rolling” his body experienced when he first showed symptoms of illness really scared him.  When working on his throat chakra, he “showed” me that he was weeping happy, grateful tears for being safe.  He asked about Lil’ B, a bun with whom he was rescued.  He showed me the number four—well, he was rescued with four others.  He lives with four humans.  In Angel Numbers, four means “the angels are with you.  They send you the number 4 to reassure you that they’ve heard your prayers and are helping you.”  I quite like that number for Cameron and his foster family.

He’s a young soul.  He’s on his first pass through this mortal coil and he really trusts people now because of his foster family.  Being a young soul, he can let go of his abandonment (twice now, that we know of) easier than others can.  No resentment present in that furry little body!  Cameron knows he’s “different” but feels confident and secure, which he confirmed by licking his paw.  Throughout most of our session together, he stayed flopped under his bench.  When I was working on his spine, however, he came toward me then ran away quickly to show he’s strong.  He started eating immediately after to confirm that physical and emotional strength.

Cameron feel clenched in his hips and lower body.  I told his foster family to give him some gentle hip massages.  He told me that he likes to be around one person at a time, rather than a crowd.  His favorite color is blue (which his foster mom guessed correctly in our post-session conversation).  As I closed our session, Cameron stood up very strongly, like Mountain Pose in yoga, to show me that he feels very loved and safe.

It was a honor to work with Cameron and I am grateful to his foster family for welcoming me and Reiki in their loving home.  Cameron is looking for a forever home, preferably with an experienced family who knows that different is so very beautiful.

You can follow Cameron’s foster family’s blog here.

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Before

Before having two rabbits of my own, I did not consider myself an “animal person.”  You may have heard clippings from this yarn before.  Here’s some of my companion animal history…

When I was born, my parents had a rescue dog Bonzo, named after John Bonham.  I don’t remember her but I hear she was my big sister and protector.  She passed when I was maybe two or three years old.  I texted mom for a more precise date but she hasn’t answered me as of time of publication.

Shortly after Bonzo passed, Midnight, a female German Shepard puppy joined our family.  I remember her.  She knocked me over and, thankfully gently/playfully, bit my head.  I hesitate to say “bit” because she didn’t break skin or injure me physically but biting is technically what it was.  There started my fear of dogs that stayed with me for nearly three decades.  Midnight was rehomed for my safety with a colleague of my father.

My only cousin growing up was a cat named Sammy.  Sammy didn’t like me. Sammy belongs to my uncle who taught me the true responsibility of caring for an animal.  I credit this uncle for my perfect balance of compassion and no-nonsense.  His example is the foundation for what I do, for my life purpose and work.  Direct all complaints his way (pause for laughter).

Various fish, a turtle and a container of Sea Monkeys filled my younger years.  I can still see, like a short film playing in my head, when my uncle (not the same guy from the previous paragraph) was returning the Sea Monkeys to their spot on the table in the basement (I just had to bring them upstairs and show them off!) and accidentally dumped them over, the red lid of their container rocketing off and monkey-water cascading out.  Rest in Peace, Sea Monkeys.  And while we’re on the topic, what the heck are Sea Monkeys?  Pause for a Googling.

Ok then… Bonus was my longest-lived Beta Fish.  She went away to college with me and she accompanied me on many Connecticut to Long Island and back road trips. She was a cool chick.  When I met the Bunny-Daddy, I was sharing my apartment with a Beta Fish named Ham that my grandmother brought home for me from a bridal shower.  Ham was the centerpiece… really people?!

Shortly after moving in together, the Bunny-Daddy and I got Tater Tot and Peanut… the rest is history, chronicled here.

I’d say I’m an animal person now. Much Love.

 

Vows

They say it’s hard to make friends in your 30s.  I say they’re not looking in the right places.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a remarkably comfortable blue couch and an incredible friend that I made in my 30s sat on the matching loveseat to my right.  She’s getting married in July.  If you know me, you know that I’m not a marriage/traditions kind of person for myself, but I get it.  I’m along for the party.

After her fiancé came back from 7-11 (thanks for the seltzer!), at some point, the topic of wedding vows came up.  Spoiler alert:  They are not writing their own.  Intuitive secret alert: I think my friend wants to write her own.  But I’m not one to meddle…

I joked that I would write them some vows.  I joked that I would include specific video game playing and watching etiquette in said vows.  Jokes aside (are jokes ever aside for me?), I’m laying down some vows for love in general here.  Feel free to use them but always give me credit.  Plagiarism causes wrinkles.

…to be weird, silly or sad as the moment strikes and to feel supported in each striking moment.

…to recognize that it’s damn near impossible to get everything from one person.  There are over 7 billion people on the planet and probably billions more with us in spirit.  It’s ok to connect with others (see next vow).

…to communicate openly, clearly and reasonably about connecting with others.  Straight talk makes for straight understanding.  The trust is in the communication and the action.

…to balance needs, to support desires, to hold space for the dreams, goals, and projects of the other, even if said needs, goals, etc. seem weird.  As long as no one is harmed in the process, let him/her shine.

…to find strength in each other, to be even better together without abandoning everything you are as an individual, if that’s something you value (not that you asked me, but you should value yourself as an individual).

…to honor that growth, change and evolution are likely and should be celebrated.

 

This vow stuff is easier than I thought— perhaps because I have clearly-defined views on my sense of self and myself in a relationship.  Bunny-daddy and I just celebrated our 8th Valentine’s Day.  Our relationship certainly isn’t for everyone.  But it’s for me.  I’ve changed a lot over the course of 8 Valentine’s Day.  I feel 100% supported in each change… and that’s a vow I treasure.

Follow-Up

When I first started volunteering, I would often ask, “What happened to (fill in name of rabbit here)?”  I became obsessed with knowing the next chapter for the rabbits that I helped care for after they were adopted out.  While records were kept from the beginning of the group’s existence, there wasn’t much follow-up that happened, unless initiated by the adopter themselves.  It was not a matter of disinterest or indifference; it was simply impossible for the number of consistent volunteers to keep in touch with over a decade’s worth of adopters.

I took the database that was kept at the time and pieced together what I could, reaching out to past adopters to check in, see how rabbit-family life was going and make sure all were current on veterinary check-ups.  I heard back from many and said prayers for the rest.  Not long after, an adopter suggested we create a Facebook group where adopters, foster families and volunteers could connect.  I believe she was looking for a bunny-sitter at the time of her idea.  After some careful imploring, I got the go-ahead from the directors to create such a group.

In some ways, I think of the group selfishly.  I was once obsessed with finding a way to follow up with the lives of our former foster rabbits.  The group fills that need.  Just about every family who adopts joins.  I can get updates on just about any-bunny and smile so big when I see how great they are doing.  But even better than that, the group has become a beautiful place for encouragement and support.   It’s like 24/7 customer service swirled with the loving care of people who choose to spend their free time saving and caring for these abandoned buns who need us.

I’m glad this crossed my mind today because I’m sitting here smiling with pride—I belong to a group filled with outstanding support, like-minded people who’ve hopped together for the greater good of our hoppy little friends.  And while we’re on the subject, are your babies up-to-date on their check-ups?  Just following up!  Much love.

Balance

I’m always Even Stephen (your inclination might be to spell Stephen with a V here but I must pay appropriate homage to my uncle/best friend/birthday buddy and remain PH balanced).  There’s something magical in balance of things.  Maybe it’s because I was raised by a Libra; my mother is the one always making sure everyone else is happy and their needs are met.  When you ask her where she wants to go to dinner on her birthday, she’ll invariably say, “Wherever you want to go.”  It’s not that she doesn’t care for herself—she just likes harmony and draws on her roots as the oldest of four children when she lets others make the decisions.  It’s not indecisiveness nor is it laziness—it’s preservation of peace and balance.  But enough about her.

We all joked and prayed that 2017 would bring us out of the hardships of 2016 (and yes, I know that a slew of celebrities dying isn’t quite a hardship compared to some of the actual tough stuff that this human experience can bring but ssshhhhh, I’m writing here).  2017 was like 2016+… or +++ for some people.  But, to paraphrase Mama Ru, a butterfly doesn’t know what’s happening in that cocoon.  Just a happy little caterpillar spins this intense cocoon and the metamorphosis is violent!  Then, out flaps this gorgeous creature that we marvel at… heck, I have 4 butterflies tattooed on me.  So here’s to hoping that 2016 and 2017 were our cocoon years and we bust out with pretty wings, using our feet to taste in 2018.

Whenever the transition is complete, we can’t forget the tough stuff.  That’s the necessity in the balance.  We are all energy, sitting or standing or lying on energy, holding energy, surrounded by energy.  That energy changes form and function but it doesn’t go away.  It finds its balance.  So if you’re feeling lonely, empty, too full, pulled in too many directions or even directionless, sit, breathe and allow the balance to rush in.  Surrender to the energy.  Do the next right thing without grabbing for 5 steps in the future or being tethered to a perceived misstep in the past.  It may take longer than you want or expect and it will often take a different form that you want or expect, but the balance will come.  Allow the peace to fill your heart, your soul and your space today as we transition into another glorious year.  Much love.

Moving Parts

What didn’t happen yesterday in our little Rescue world?  I’ll just timeline it for you:

7:21 am: The first email inquiry of the day from a parent wanting a rabbit as Christmas gift for a young child arrived in our inbox.

NOT Holiday Gifts
Photo Credit: D.C.

8:15 am: Assembled a team of volunteers to standby for the potential influx of emails like the aforementioned, in effort to educate these well-meaning families that living things are not toys.

9:00 am: Volunteers cleaned, fed and snuggled buns at our main foster home.

10:00 am: Ontario, adopted out last year, was transported back by volunteers to our main foster home, as her family could no longer care for her.  Welcome back, sweet girl.

Ontario
Photo Credit: LIRRG

11:00 am: Secured a foster home for the “Frat Party Rabbit.”  A father contacted us during the week that his daughter saved a rabbit from a college fraternity party but they could not keep the rabbit long term.  Volunteers then sprung into action, once foster home was secured, to transport rabbit from rescuer’s home to foster home.

Throughout the Day: Emails are thankfully and surprisingly slow… or it just felt that way because I had a lot of great help!  Connected 4 potential adopters to volunteers for screening and helped a few other emailers with questions.

3:33pm: Lil’ B, a boy from our recent big rescue in Baldwin, is adopted as husbun to LIRRG alum Brooke.  That makes 51 adoptions in 2017, just one shy of our goal.

4:00 pm: “Frat Party Rabbit” picked up by loving volunteer and father of rescuer gave very generous donation.  Bun is transported to foster home and is now a member of our sorority; she’s a young lop-eared lady.

Frat Party Bun
Photo Credit: N.S.

6:23 pm: Two strays that a former adopter has seen in her neighborhood (and offered to foster if we help catch) are spotted.  Team springs into action and heads way out east.  One rabbit is brought to safety… turns out this case is far more complicated than two abandoned rabbits and the authorities are called in.

6:33 pm: Compiled the volunteer coverage schedule for the upcoming week.  Grateful to the solid team of helpers!

8:01 pm: LIRRG alum (and my tiniest niece) Laila Bunny is not eating and her temperature is low.

8:55 pm: I leave the house (in my pajamas) to medicate Laila Bunny.  She seems to be getting better (but she didn’t get better overnight and has been hospitalized this morning).

9:43 pm: Volunteer who sustained scratches at the evening catch texts me to ask if Sacred Frankincense will work on her skin like “regular” Frankincense will.  Yes… and I love the crossover between my Rescue and wellness worlds, lots of people living lives of wellness and purpose.

 

I think I got everything… and that’s just the “stuff” that I helped with; we have quite the kick-ass team out there, saving as many as we can!

Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.